Frenchman Vincent Fichot, 39, made headlines this summer when he staged a hunger strike near the national stadium ahead of the Tokyo Olympics to raise awareness of the issue, which Japanese police did not taken seriously. French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the issue with then Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during his visit to Japan for the sporting event.
This is one of many similar cases involving Japanese spouses. But it is extraordinary that such a case results in the issuance of an arrest warrant.
EU Ambassador to Japan Patricia Flor (front left) meets with former Education Minister Masahiko Shibayama (far right) to discuss parental abduction issues on November 26, 2021 in Tokyo. (Kyodo)
The European Parliament passed a resolution last year calling on Japan to allow EU citizens to have their children taken away from them by their Japanese spouses.
In Fichot’s case, the two children – a 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl – were first taken to the couple’s home in Tokyo in August 2018, according to documents filed regarding the prosecution. The father has not been allowed to see them since.
French authorities said they were competent to investigate the case because the children have French in addition to Japanese nationality.
Fichot, who still lives in Tokyo, earlier reported the situation to the police. But they have not opened an investigation, believing that it is not uncommon for a wife to run away from the house with the children, according to the sources.
It is not clear whether the Japanese side will cooperate with French investigators, as the two countries do not have an agreement on the surrender of the suspects.